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Legal Ethics

Greenberg Firm to Repay All $3.2M Related to Ex-Partner’s Work for Chicago Suburb

Posted Mar 22, 2010 11:54 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Greenberg Traurig has agreed to pay Calumet Park $3.2 million following news that a now-former partner of the firm is believed to have billed the suburban Chicago municipality for over $1 million in fees for legal work that was never performed, reports the Southtown Star.

"This is a repayment of all of the attorney's fees back to 2002," says Burt Odelson, the village attorney. He estimates that 10 percent of the fees Mark McCombs charged Calumet Park were legitimate, according to an earlier Southtown Star article.

"We thought that the appropriate thing to do was return all the fees," says Paul Fox. He serves as co-managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig's Chicago office.

McCombs, 50, served as the municipality's special counsel for development. He was charged with felony theft of government funds exceeding $100,000 and pleaded not guilty in the Cook County case earlier this month. He was fired by the law firm after the situation came to light.

The earlier Southtown Star article says questions were finally raised about a lack of required financial reporting concerning the government tax increment financing districts that McCombs oversaw while charging a billable rate approaching $600 per hour.

When confronted by the village mayor, he allegedly offered to write a $100,000 check to make good on losses. Then, when Calumet Park officials were wired by the Cook County state's attorney's office in a sting operation, McCombs allegedly repeated the $100,000 check offer and admitted to diverting $800,000 in TIF funds, the newspaper reports.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Greenberg Traurig Partner Charged With Overbilling Client By $1M to Gain Prestige in Firm"

ABAJournal.com: "Ethics Expert Defends Quick Firing of Partner Accused of $1M Overbilling Theft"

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